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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Bearing Down on the Blue Jackets

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Colorado looks to make it three straight on the road this month

Columbus Blue Jackets v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche are slowly making their way back West as they conclude their five game road trip. After commanding wins in Buffalo and Ottawa, they are in Columbus tonight to take on the Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets are in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and are playing their second consecutive game after hosting the Detroit Red Wings. The Avs are in second place in the Central Division and have had a day off between each game on this road trip.

Colorado brings their Western Conference leading +41 goal differential into tonight where they face a team with a +9. The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the NHL with +47.


Colorado Avalanche

Flying under the radar, Ryan Graves is leading the league in +/- at +37. He’s seven points ahead of the next skater, Carolina’s injured Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton’s teammate Jaccob Slavin is at +29, to round out the top three.

Other Avs players climbing up the NHL leaderboards include Cale Makar who now has 40 points this season, and Andre Burakovsky set a career high in points as he also reached 40. Nathan MacKinnon is still leading the team with 30 goals and 44 assists for 74 points.

On Thursday, Valeri Nichushkin scored the first goal of the game, and his 10th of the season, to extend his three game point streak and bringing his season total to 22.

Projected Lines

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare - J.T. Compher
Joonas Donskoi - Tyson Jost - Matt Nieto

Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov


Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus comes into today’s game looking to even the season series. They fell to Colorado 4-2 in November. Emil Bemstrom and Zach Werenski each scored, and Seth Jones, Gustav Nyquist, Cam Atkinson, and Nick Foligno each tallied an assist in that game. Zach Werenski is third on the team with 16 goals, and Gustav Nyquist is third in assists with 22.

Although he hasn’t played since Jan. 2 due to injury, the Blue Jackets signed defensemen Dean Kukan to a two-year contract extension. He now remains under club control until the end of the 2021-2022 season. In 33 games this season, Kukan has one goal and four assists, but has a +/- of -9.

Projected Lines

Nick Foligno - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Gustav Nyquist - Boone Jenner - Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano - Riley Nash - Emil Bemstrom
Nathan Gerbe - Ryan MacInnis - Kevin Stenlund

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov - David Savard
Scott Harrington - Markus Nutivaara


Goalies

After a dominant performance in goal on Thursday, Philipp Grubauer is likely to get the start again tonight. He has 16 wins this season in 1,837 minutes play

Joonas Korpisalo played against the Avs in November, but has been out since the end of December. Elvis Merzlikins has been their starting goalie since then, with Matiss Kivlenieks playing two games, and winning one.